Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 256

The Hockey Show is back on the UMFM radio frequency tonight, and we're going to bring a potpourri-style of a show tonight as we go through a number of stories from around the hockey world. First, though, we have a returning guest who has a unique perspective on some of the major stories from the hockey world this summer. He's still involved in a way with the stories, but he's not as directly involved as he once was. We'll get his viewpoints on the major stories before breaking into a number of cool stories from around the hockey spectrum in the second-half of The Hockey Show!

The Hockey Show is proud to welcome back former head coach of the CWHL's Brampton Thunder, Mr. Tyler Fines! Tyler is now the head coach for the Etobicoke Dolphins Midget 'AA'​ Hockey team in Ontario where he is responsible for the development of 2000-, '01-, and '02-aged female hockey players and the promotion of these players to the PWHL, NCAA, and CIS ranks. Tyler's work in this midget hockey league will see him working with some Chinese-Canadian athletes as well as being able to offer unique insights into the CWHL expansion to China this summer. We're excited to have Tyler back on the show, and we'll try to squeeze as much information out of him as we can!

On the second-half of The Hockey Show, we'll take a look at a couple of stories the CBC ran this week about three First Nations women heading south to play hockey at a prestigious Boston-based hockey school, the Sagkeeng Oldtimers team made up of residential school survivors who will now have a place at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, and the struggles a women's league in Kenora is having in getting ice-time. We'll also touch on the Sudbury Wolves looking sharp, Hockey Canada's U18 women's team kicking off play against Team USA in a three-game set in Lake Placid, New York, and the Aalborg Pirates are back on the ice and winning games so we'll update everyone on how Brandon Reid and his team are doing! There's lots to chat about tonight, so make sure you tune in!

How can you listen to the show, you ask? We suggest that you download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so go get it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today, and don't miss any of our great programming or shows!

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

Tonight, Teebz and Beans chat with Tyler Fines about a new job and the CWHL before bringing up up-and-coming stars, Hall-of-Famers, beer-leaguers, Wolves, Canadian women, and Pirates only on The Hockey Show found on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: August 17, 2017: Episode 256

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Sudbury Goes Old-School

There are certain elements of a hockey jersey that make them look like old-time hockey sweaters. They usually include things like the hem stripes, the sleeve stripes, and a traditional V-neck-type collar. Anything else might be team-specific, but those are the generic "old-time" features of a hockey jersey that make the jerseys timeless as they are for the Canadiens, Blackhawks, Rangers, and Red Wings. Junior hockey clubs seem less inclined to make sweeping changes unless necessary, so there are still some timeless jerseys seen in the CHL as well. One team that decided to move away from the traditional sweater look was the Sudbury Wolves when Reebok got involved a decade ago, but it seems that Sudbury is going backs to its roots with yesterday's changes and it might be the best jersey unveiling this summer!

Let's start with the old look that the Wolves introduced seven years ago as modeled by Owen Lalonde.
First off, you already probably know that I hate the vertical apron straps on these jerseys, and it makes the logos and captaincy designations worn on the front of the jerseys look absolutely ridiculous as seen on Marcus Foligno to the right. His alternate captain's "A" is basically in the middle of the jersey at this point! In past years with the apron strings, the Wolves applied the captaincy marks over the vertical piping, but both looks are absolutely ridiculous. The shoulder yoke simply extends to the wrist, eliminating sleeve stripes, and the hem stripes are non-existent. Basically, this was "Reebok design" to a tee, and I was never a fan of it.

Let's jump seven years ahead to present time where the Wolves will wear the following this upcoming season.
Now that's more like it! While the uniform clearly is still modern with today's lightweight fabrics and the slimmer cuts, the traditional elements have returned to make the Sudbury Wolves look more like a hockey team and less like an aggressive Chopped Canada team. There are great stripes that use the secondary colours well, there are traditional shoulder yokes that really makes the colours pop, and the logo is now the focal point for the eyes when looking at the jersey. This is what hockey is supposed to look like, and the Wolves are looking fantastic!

"The new look is really a fresh design, with a clean look that salutes some of the more successful seasons of the organization wearing the blue and whites," Andrew Dale, VP of Marketing & Development, told reporters at the press conference. "Launching a new jersey designs is one of the most fun aspects of working in sports and marketing. We consulted with key stakeholders to get their opinions; from alumni and players to fans volunteers and as an organization we felt the timing was right to signal a change in the new era of Wolves' Hockey. The jersey change is a symbol of what this edition Wolves organization believes – respect for the past, our history and tradition but a firm grasp of a fresh clean and bright future."

That past is one that is hasn't seen a ton of winning, but going back to the team's heady days where they looked great isn't a bad thing. As seen on Marc Staal, there are a few differences due to the modern jersey template, but the style elements have returned. Sudbury's play on the ice needs to be improved as much as their jerseys have as they currently hold the OHL's longest championship drought and the third-longest drought in the Canadian Hockey League. They've only been to the OHL's J. Ross Robertson Cup Final twice, and lost both times in their 45 years of being in the OHL. However, they do develop serious NHL talent as they have sent 77 players to the NHL including the likes of Mike Fisher, Mike Peca, Dave and Dale Hunter, Pat Verbeek, and the aforementioned Staal and Foligno.

So what do the players think? "When we got a sneak peak at them in the spring before leaving for the summer with some of the guys, we were stoked to see this change," Reagan O'Grady told reporters. "I think that this small change reflects the feelings that Wolves Hockey matters and that people are excited about what's going on at the arena. This year there is just a completely different feeling going into the season and that's exciting."

If you look good, you feel good. That may translate into more on-ice success for the Wolves this year, but they're already light years ahead in the fashion department for the changes seen here today. I never really had the Sudbury Wolves among my favorite teams, but these changes have brought the hockey look back to Sudbury, and that's a great look for the upcoming season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 14 August 2017

Meet The Kids

With autumn rolling in like a locomotive on what seems like an already-short summer, Hockey Canada is gearing up for another big season of hockey. Yes, there's that little tournament known as the Olympics that they'll participate in and they always have teams for the World junior Championship and the IIHF Men's Hockey Championship, but there are other segments of the population that get to represent Canada on the world's stage as well. After spending eight days in Calgary, Hockey Canada has pared down its roster of invites from the U-18 camp to 24 women who will wear the maple leaf in a three-game set against Team USA beginning August 17 in Lake Placid, New York!

"We want to congratulate all 42 players who took part in the selection camp, and thank our staff for a phenomenal week. As we expected, these young women showed up ready to work hard both on and off the ice, and they made our decision very difficult," said Delaney Collins, head coach of Canada's National Women's Under-18 Team. "Congratulations to the 24 players who were selected to play in Lake Placid; you've earned this opportunity, and we’re excited to work with you and continue to see you develop over this upcoming series."

While Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan will have the most representation on the team in terms of which provinces the girls call home, the roster is made up of a unique mix of players. Four players are returning silver medalists from the 2017 IIHF U18 Women's World Championship, and five played in the 2016 three-game summer series against the United States. I'll denote these players on the roster below so you can see who the returning "veterans" are, but there are some other interesting notes from the development camp that just finished.

First, Logan Angers of the St. Mary's Academy Flames in Winnipeg had an outstanding camp statistically, but was not chosen as one of the goaltenders. Her stats line of 30 saves on 31 shots, a 0.64 GAA, and a .968 save percentage in three appearances would have led me to believe that she made the cut, but she was victimized for her only goal-against in the final intra-squad squad in overtime to give Canada-Black a win over Angers' Canada-Red team. I'm not saying this is the reason why she was cut, but her stats were arguably as good or better than the three goalies selected. That's not to say that any of the goalies who were selected don't deserve the honour, but it goes to show just how close the competition is when it comes to picking the right players for this opportunity.

Second, it seems this team is built not for this three-game series, but the eventual goal of capturing the gold medal at the 2018 IIHF U18 Women's World Championship in Dmitrov, Russia. I have no issue with this future planning at all, but I would like to see Canada lock in on the majority of players they want for that tournament. As Hockey Canada's press release states, "Hockey Canada scouts, along with the team's coaching staff and general manager, will continue to evaluate players with their provincial and club teams during the 2017-18 season, including at the 2017 National Women's Under-18 Championship in Quebec City". That means that players like Angers or any of the other women sent home could be back to play with the team in Russia if they continue to see their stocks rise. I believe that they have a good idea of who they want on that squad, but you just don't want to mess with chemistry too much as the tournament approaches.

After saying all that, here are the 24 women who will represent Canada later this week in the three-game set.

The ladies will begin their quest to gold this Thursday against the US U18 women's team in Lake Placid followed by Game Two on Friday and Game Three on Sunday. The overall results of this three-game series with the American women isn't focused on winning or losing, but developing a squad that's ready for Russia. If the end is a gold medal, I'm ok with the means if we lose all three games despite playing hard. After all, the big dance happens in Russia in January.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

TBC: Body Check

Teebz's Book Club has a pile of books that need their spines cracked, but I'm slowly working through this pile. With summer being more than busy for me, it's hard to just grab a seat and plow through two hundred pages of a book. That being said, I do try when the time allows for it and today was one of those days. Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Body Check, written by Matt Christopher and published by Little, Brown and Company. This book is aimed at younger readers as Brent Mullen and his Badgers teammates look to improve on a .500 record the year before. However, it seems the team's strategy changes with the addition of a new assistant coach and his son, and this leaves Brent questioning his desire to play on the team!

Matt Christopher authored more than one hundred novels and three hundred short stories in his life. Born in Bath, Pennsylvania, Christopher was an outstanding athlete in his youth, but his interest in writing began around the age of 14. He would see his first story published at the age of 24 in a detective magazine. After graduating from high school, Christopher played professional baseball for the Smith Falls Beavers in Ontario before he was cut after he couldn't make contact. Christopher would return home to New York before a knee injury reduced his sporting endeavors entirely. He married Catherine "Cay" M. Krupa on July 13, 1940, and worked at the National Cash Register in Ithaca, New York until he retired in 1963. Upon retiring, Christopher took up his passion for writing after having had 15 books already published. Unfortunately for readers, Christopher died September 20, 1997 in Charlotte, North Carolina after complications arose in surgery for a non-malignant brain tumor at the age of 80. He won the annual Milner Award as "the author whose books are most liked by the children of Atlanta, Georgia". When asked why he wrote sports books for children, Christopher answered, "Sports have made it possible for me to meet many new people with all sorts of life stories, on and off the field, and these are grist for this writer's mill."

In reading Body Check, I felt a little out of my element with some of the explanations of terms that Matt Christopher works into the story. While I get that not all youth readers may know what a power-play is, I struggled when Christopher continually used the term "flip shot" when he really meant "wrist shot". It literally tripped me up a couple of times as I read through, so just be prepared that if you award this book to your younger player you may have to explain a term of two that isn't in the parlance of hockey.

That being said, the story contained within the covers of Body Check is one that most parents and players will struggle with or have struggled with as young players get older. While the Badgers seemingly haven't had a big season with a lot of wins recently, Brent is fairly content with the job that Coach Maxwell is doing as the Badgers' head coach. He has seen his older brother, Lee, become one of the best players at his high school, and he learned under Coach Maxwell. However, a new addition to the team in the form of Vic Seabrook and his father and former player, Mr. Seabrook, have a different attitude towards winning that Brent doesn't like.

Brent and the Badgers had been using speed and skill to win games under Coach Maxwell, but it seemed that Coach Seabrook wanted players to resort to doing anything possible to win, and that included playing dirty. Brent found himself at a crossroads as he knew that type of play wasn't right nor did he want to play that way, but he also questioned whether or not Coach Seabrook's methods accomplished more.
The kind of hockey that Coach Seabrook was teaching went against everything he believed - and not only about sports but life in general. Rules were there to be followed. He was certain of that.

But then a scary thought came to him.

Could it be that Coach Seabrook was right? That what made some players winners and others losers was that winners knew when to cheat and get away with it? Maybe that was what it was all about, and Coach Maxwell had it wrong. Maybe Lee was wrong too... after all, Lee might be a few years older than Brent, but he was basically still a kid himself.

Brent wished he could be sure.

And he wondered, too, if the way Coach Seabrook taught hockey was the way it was supposed to be played. If so, could he play that way?

Did he even want to?
And that's the struggle that Brent goes through in the book. Despite Mr. Seabrook's insistence that this is how hockey is played and that "sometimes accidents happen", Brent and several of the Badgers players struggle with this new outlook while Brent's best friend, Cam, embraces the "winning" mentality. With a game coming up against the undefeated Cyclones, will this new style of play hurt the Badgers? Will they be able to defeat the Cyclones? Will Brent finish the season as a Badger? All of these questions are answered in Body Check!

There are some strong lessons in Body Check that shouldn't be overlooked. The importance of learning important fundamentals and playing the game the right way as opposed to cheating and intimidation of an opponent is the main theme, but questions of right vs. wrong will enter the story at times, friendships will be tested, and apologies will be given and accepted through the 137-page novel. Mr. Christopher does a great job in bringing these tough moral questions to the forefront in his writing, and they are lessons that every parent should have with their young player at some point. Because of these lessons, Body Check will get the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Find Body Check at your local bookstore or library in the young readers section, and let your young all-star work through the entire series of Matt Christopher books!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

A Good Man Gone

The hockey world, and the world in general, lost an incredible man today as it was announced that Bryan Murray passed on after a long battle with colon cancer at the age of 74. Murray was a very unique individual whose sharp mind and ever sharper retorts to questions were appreciated by all. The courage he showed in his battle with colon cancer not only showed his inextinguishable human spirit, but showed that Murray would not let cancer slow him down. Losing a man like Bryan Murray today seems a little unfair considering all he did for the game of hockey, the players and personnel he met and gave chances to regarding their dreams, and the countless fans who had experiences with him. He will be missed.

For the last three years, Murray had been battling Stage 4 colon cancer, and he told TSN's Michael Farber in 2014 that there was not going to be a last-minute victory in this battle.
"The word is we'll keep doing chemo and, hopefully, reduce the tumors and the effect and I'll get some time out of that," Murray said. "There is no cure for me at this point."
As per the report linked above, "According to doctors the cancer had been living in Murray's body for seven to 10 years before it was caught."
"The frustrating part – and I've said this to several doctors since then – is, 'How come there were no signs?'" Murray, 71, asked. "When you hear that you've had cancer for possibly up to 10 years and there were no signs... obviously, because of the Stage 4, it had moved through my body."
Murray didn't let the anger or frustration of his situation get the better of him, though. As he stated,
"Let's go to extra overtime and keep playing like the game we played against the Islanders many years ago and we went to four overtime periods," Murray said. "Let's just keep it going as long as we can, be as healthy as we can for that time, and enjoy what we have as we do it."
And that's what Bryan Murray should be remembered for: his never-give-up, turn-a-frown-upside-down attitude that saw accumulate a ton of successes in his hockey career. This is a man who earned 620 NHL coaching wins - 10th-place all-time - and has won both a Jack Adams Award and an NHL Executive of the Year Award. He's won a Memorial Cup with the Regina Pats, the CJHL's Centennial Cup with the Rockland Nationals, and has been inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame. The man's reputation in hockey was succinctly summed up by his long-time friend and Nashville Predators GM David Poile when, last season, he said of Murray,
"Players always have good things to say about Bryan," Poile said. "He knew how to communicate with players. Sometimes it was his sense of humour, his sarcasm, but he just knew how to get through to them and in response they played for him. He knew how to motivate players."
There might be no greater compliment one can give a coach than what Poile said of Murray. But it wasn't his coaching legacy that Bryan was most proud of as he was often fondly remembered as a loving husband, devoted father, doting grandfather, and loyal friend. Bryan's connection to everyone he met, to his friends, and to his family was vitally important to him, and he would often do whatever he could to put those people he cared for ahead of himself.
"I can't say enough about Bryan," said longtime Senator Mike Fisher. "He was always so good to me and when it came time to move me he could have traded me anywhere, but he wanted (wife and country music star Carrie underwood) and I to be together and he was able to make a deal with David (Poile) to get me to Nashville.

"That's just the kind of guy he was. He always thought about you as more than just a player. He wanted what was best for you as a person."
In hearing that, I'd hope that more people would strive to be like Bryan Murray. There are far too many who worry about the bottom line or where the team is in the standings who lose perspective of everything that goes on outside of hockey. The fact that he did all he could to accommodate Mike Fisher's request to move to Nashville to be closer to his wife shows you that it's not always about winning and losing. Sometimes, it's about the people, and Bryan Murray never forgot that aspect whether he was making deals in the GM chair, handing out instructions as a coach, or simply providing sound advice to those that asked.

The world lost a good man today. Rest in peace, Bryan Murray. You're a legend in this game called "life".

Until next time, raise your sticks high in honour of Mr. Murray!